Author Archives: NCN Technology

What Is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

What Is the Internet of Things (IoT)?

The internet landscape is growing at an exponential rate. It’s no longer just about computers, laptops, tablets and smartphones – the Internet of Things (IoT). It almost seems like there’s a new device coming out every day! Washing machines, robotic vacuum cleaners, door locks, toys and even toasters are labeled “smart” because they are internet connected. This was a future we were promised in science fiction stories not that long ago, but now it’s turning up everywhere we look, and consumers are itching to own a piece of that promise.  As a result, we now have a new umbrella term added to our vocabulary, the “Internet of Things.”

The Internet of Things (IoT), in its most basic form, is everyday devices that are able to be connected to each other and the internet. These everyday objects, such as smart watches, CCTV cameras or even traffic lights, are able to communicate with each other and to the applications that allow you to configure them. Just as you can use an app on your phone to setup your wifi-enabled air conditioner, a wearable device can alert health care professionals when a patient is in need of critical attention.

Not all devices are created equally when it comes to security.

Automating our life at home and at work naturally reduces human labour and as we move more and more towards smart cars, smart homes and wearable devices, we gather more and more objects that are considered part of IoT.

This has both pros and cons, some of which may seem fairly obvious to many.  As with anything relating to the internet, users are wise to do their best to understand the risks involved with using the technologies they bring into their lives. With understanding, they are better-equipped to implement security measures that protect their private information and thus make using these convenient devices work to their advantage.

Anything connected to the internet is vulnerable to cyber attacks. This is particularly true of IoT devices for one very simple reason. Not all IoT devices have security settings that can be easily configured. Because of this, plug-and-play type devices should be carefully researched before they are connected to the internet.

As exciting new gadgets make our homes smarter, they’re also making them more vulnerable.

With the rush of the IoT craze in the consumer market, many manufacturers are working to get their products to market as quickly as possible, thus security can be overlooked at the point of design and release to the public. However, you have probably paid close attention to your PC passwords and are running an antivirus software plus being careful when browsing online. Now think about this. Hackers know that the general population operates the same way, therefore they have moved to hacking routers instead of computer systems.

This is where the home router plays a very important role. The router is essentially the entry point of the internet into your home  or business. While not all connected devices can be protected by themselves, the router has the ability to provide protection at the entry point. Although today’s typical router does provide some additional security (i.e., password protection, firewalls, and the ability to configure them to only allow certain devices on your network), they do not come with installed security software. This makes it possible for malware to sneak through. With the popularity of IoT devices, and the high vulnerabilities they carry, attackers are already focusing on ways to exploit them.  So it’s certainly an area to consider when implementing security measures within your home and workplace.

When it comes to the Internet of Things, there are so many benefits that could improve the way we work and make our home lives easier. But keep in mind that whatever is connected to the internet is available to anyone who knows how to take it. Therefore, it’s wise to do your research before you connect a product to the internet, learn how to configure any security settings and consider how much access a device really needs to your personal information.

We live in an exciting time for technology. There’s no reason to shy away from taking full advantage of efficiency, we just need to do so with some considered security measures.

6 Ways To Attract More Website Traffic

6 Ways To Attract More Website Traffic

What good is a website if no one visits it? If you do get visits to your website, is the number high enough for you to reach your goal of generated sales or views (also known as conversions)? If not, what can you do to increase the number of visitors to your website?

Let’s have a look at 6 ways to help you generate more traffic to your website.

  1. Use Google Analytics

One of the best ways to figure out how to improve your website for attracting new visitors is Google Analytics.

In short, it allows you to analyze the traffic on your website. Google Analytics interacts with your website’s programming language (Javascript) and by doing so, collects information about your website’s visitors. Google then makes this information available to you through its tool, Google Analytics. All you need is a Google account. Most people have a Gmail, Google+ or YouTube account nowadays, which means they can use the same account for Google Analytics.

The setup of your account is very easy and lets you track whichever information you are interested in gathering (e.g. geographical location, gender, age, frequency of visiting your website, etc.). The tool provides standard reports, dashboards and so-called segments (a particular dataset such as the age of your viewers) which you can customize if you wish to do so.

You have the ability to dive deeper into the information and see which content on your website generates the most and least interaction, how long your website visitors stay on your website, how the visitors of your website found you, and so much more.

Google Analytics is a user-friendly tool providing a high level of information that can be used to optimize your website’s content and attract further visitors. In turn, the result should be an increased number of conversions. Considering this, there is no reason to wonder why 50% of the top 1 million websites use this incredible free web analytics service offered by Google.  

  1. Have an Outstanding Website

Remember that people make up their minds fairly quickly when they view your website, which means it needs to look the part.

Here are a few important things to consider:

  • Ensure the design is modern and clean
  • Have a consistent layout, even when viewed on a mobile device
  • Use high-quality images
  • Create interest with eye-catching headlines
  • Concentrate on making your website visually appealing

You’ll want to aim to create a site navigation that is user-friendly. It should be easy for the visitors of your web page to find what they are looking for. A simple way to allow users to search for relevant content is by having filter options. You’ll also be doing visitors a favor by having important information, such as who to contact and how, easy to find. Always bear in mind which customers you would like to attract and what is important to them while they’re visiting your website. Make sure that your website is fast and that it’s secure, especially if personal information, such as credit card details, are provided when checking out.

  1. Use Google AdWords

Another Google service, the biggest of its kind, is Google AdWords. It is an online advertising service that allows the ads of your services and/or products to be displayed on the Google Search results page. The aim is, of course, to tempt users to click on your advertisement which will lead them to your website. By bidding on keywords relevant to your target audience and being able to place a maximum amount you are willing to pay each time that your ad generates a click, you can influence the ranking of your ad on the Google Search results page. The keywords themselves trigger an auction if one or more businesses are bidding on a keyword. As a result, your ad will be displayed on the Google Search results page. “Businesses generally make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on AdWords,” Google proudly states. It is therefore another great tool to help increase not just the traffic to your website, but ideally your conversions as well.

  1. Make Use of Social Media

If you do have a website, you should maximize the use of social media. There are over 2 billion people using social media worldwide today. Facebook pages, Facebook Groups, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube, you name it, use them. The more you can advertise your services using social media, the better.

Be smart with your content. People are looking for quality content and don’t want to be inundated with useless information. Ask yourself how you can add value to your ideal customers. Post regularly to make sure that your articles, posts, comments and blogs are not getting lost in the news feed. Remember that the likes and shares of your posts and comments will be visible, not just to your connections, but to their connections as well. Imagine too, the benefit of having a few influencers promote your content. Make sure to provide a link to your social media on your actual website.

  1. Check Out the Competition

How do they advertise their services and/or products? What does their website look like? What are the latest features they are using? What are their latest offers? Are they on social media? If so, which social media channels are they using? These are just a few simple questions you can ask yourself when checking what your competitor does, giving you a good idea of why they might be making a bigger profit than you!

  1. Offer Giveaways Regularly and Make Use of Email Marketing

If it’s an actual product, a first consultation for a service you are offering or a free video tutorial, we all love to get something for free. Whatever it is that you give away, feature it regularly on your web page and share it through your social media. Ask your website visitors to sign up with their email address in order to get their free gift. Let them increase their chances by sharing and promoting your giveaway. Once you have grown your subscription/email list, follow up regularly with emails on new offers, updates to your website, news, etc. Make sure that you are not just concentrating on first-time visitors of your website, but recurring visitors as well. You want people to come back to your website and purchase your products or services again.

As you can see, there are a number of ways to increase the traffic to your website. Apart from making sure your website is current and up-to-date in design as well as content, it is important to make use of the above mentioned tools. The data and the analysis of the same are invaluable. They let you make a decision between fine tuning your content or simply replacing if not removing it altogether. They also allow you to influence how and where your ads can be seen and how far you want to reach your audience.

If you feel you don’t have the time or this all still seems a little intimidating, please reach out to the team at NCN Technology for assistance in ensuring your website is optimizing all available channels to improve your results.

Mobility and Productivity

Mobility and Productivity

The “Office” feature for the Samsung Focus 2 mobile phone is an excellent opportunity to turn your device into a productivity center. This application allows you to create different types of documents directly from a device. Create text-based documents, presentations, spreadsheets and more! Think of the “Office” feature as a mobile version of Microsoft’s own Office productivity suite.

Getting Started:

Step 1

Open the “Office” software on your Samsung Focus 2 mobile phone by first opening the “Apps” window on your device’s screen. Next, tap the yellow icon labeled “Office.” A display with options pertaining to the types of documents you can open or create will fill the screen.

Step 2

To open a file, begin by swiping your finger to the left across the screen and open the “Locations” window. If the document is saved on your phone, tap the option labeled “Phone.” Choose the file name of the document that you want to open. If you don’t know the name but do know keywords in the document, tap the word “Search” to perform a basic search. You can also use the “Office 365” and “SharePoint” features to access shared documents that you have worked on using other devices.

Step 3

To create a document, swipe your finger across the right of the screen to reveal a list of various document types. Tap “Explore OneNote” to begin composing a new virtual notebook and “Explore Excel” to begin creating a new spreadsheet. Choose “Explore Word” to create a new text document using Microsoft Word. Select “Explore PowerPoint” to begin creating a new multimedia presentation.

Step 4

Use the toolbars to create and formate new documents. Toolbar buttons will vary depending on the type of document you’re creating. The mobile versions of the Microsoft productivity programs are very similar in design to the full desktop versions. The only major difference is that all features have been reorganized to take advantage of a smaller touch screen. Text is entered into all programs using the virtual keyboard, similar to the way you compose an SMS text message or e-mail on your phone.

Step 5

When you’re finished creating your document, tap the “Save” option from the toolbar to save your progress. You can also tap “Share” to share the document using e-mail, Facebook and other types of online services.

Facilities Need Stronger Healthcare Data Security

Facilities Need Stronger Healthcare Data Security

Does your organization need Stronger Healthcare Data Security? Last year was a record year for Data Breaches and Healthcare information is now more vulnerable than ever. According to a gemalto report “Healthcare organizations encountered the greatest number of breaches among all other industries in 2017.”

Given the forces at play, healthcare data security is top of mind. Healthcare providers need to make sure patient data is secure. Layering your technology is highly recommended by Cyber Security Professionals. One type of technology to include in your stack is Multi-factor Authentication (MFA). This gives your IT department control over secure passwords and reduces the threat of weak password creation and management.

MFAs also provides the ability for single sign on to make it easier for users to access their applications. Rather than memorizing different passwords, users login once and connect to all associated applications.

Items to consider when looking at MFA’s for your organization:

Will it full-fill HIPAA and HITECH Logon Requirements?
Will it provide Secure Logon Access into EMR Data?
Is it Card-based, Multi-Factor Authentication?
Does it work with existing physical access badges?
Does it work on Cloud, Enterprise Servers, Small Business, Networks, or Stand Alone Computers?

These are just a few questions to ask when evaluating solutions. There is not one solution that will protect your data. For Healthcare Data Security, it is recommended to find the best stack of solutions to meet your organizational needs.

For more information, contact us at consulting@ncntechnology.com

How sales enablement can speed up move-ins

How sales enablement can speed up move-ins

It’s no secret that assisted living companies are facing occupancy challenges. Assisted living occupancy reached its lowest levels since 2009 in the second quarter of 2017, according to data from the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care. And occupancy challenges continued through last year and into this one.

One underlying issue is that older adults are expressing a desire to receive care in their homes as they age rather than move. In a Merrill Lynch study, 85% of retirees said they would rather receive care in their own homes, compared with 10% who said they would prefer an assisted living facility. In fact, senior housing accounts for just 4 million out of 46 million potential older-adult customers. This finding underscores that the value of assisted living facilities is not being effectively communicated to seniors and their adult children, who are often the key decision-makers.

So how can we change that?

Sales enablement helps organizations address this challenge by streamlining the sales process and shortening sales cycles. It accomplishes these goals by improving buyer interactions with better, more relevant sales content and equipping sales teams with the tools they need to be more informed and productive sellers.

Let me walk you through each phase of the sales enablement process, which begins well before the sale is made — an important point to understand, as we know that almost 60% of the buying decision is made before a lead will talk to sales.

Know your audience. In the past 15 years, the personal care and/or financial assistance given to a parent by an adult child has more than tripled. Approximately one-fourth of adult children — many of whom are baby boomers — provide care for a parent. That number is expected to grow, making it essential that assisted living providers understand how to market to and engage boomers.

Boomers are interested in honest reviews to help them make informed choices. According to Google search data, clicks for senior living terms showed 27% growth from 2015 to 2016. Costs, payment options and care services drove queries of younger boomers, whereas those aged 65 or more years showed more interest in amenities, lifestyle and dining options (yes, seniors in increasing numbers are using Google and social media – see the section below).

Your unique value proposition. Your marketing messages need to demonstrate your value and build your brand by creating a narrative that will connect with and attract your target audience. Per the above, when speaking about amenities or lifestyle options, share information in the context of a story that will resonate, and from several perspectives.

For instance, although offering resident or community manager testimonials to underscore the quality of your community is good, consider using adult caregiver testimonials, too, such as: “I entrusted my mom to XYZ because they give me weekly reports on…” That kind of information resonates with the ones who often make the financial decisions about assisted living.

Delivering your message(s). People are looking for answers. It’s your job to make sure you’re delivering them using channels that boomers are most apt to receive them in. Several tools are available to increase purchaser awareness and improve engagement: targeted advertising, direct mail, public relations and, perhaps most important of all, social media. Boomers have grown up with and adapted quickly to rapidly advancing technology; they’re not afraid of technology, as too many marketers presume.

More boomers get their information from smartphones and tablets and through various social media channels. Engagement is key, which is why it is important to develop shareable content that builds your online reputation, and to develop strategically developed social media campaigns.

Also note that more seniors than you think use Facebook. According to Penn State researchers, in 2013, 27% of adults aged 65 or more years belonged to a social network such as Facebook or LinkedIn. Now, the number is 35% and increasing.

The buyer’s journey has three stages: Awareness (of a problem), consideration (of solutions) and decision (to purchase a certain product or service). Sales enablement supports each stage by combining timely, focused content (case studies, product sheets, white papers, ebooks, articles, emails) and technology for streamlining the targeting, distribution, sharing and continuous improvement of your sales messages.

One of the biggest challenges for senior living executives is demonstrating the value of an assisted living community. In today’s competitive senior living marketplace, a proactive, always-evolving sales enablement process will go a long way in differentiating your community and services while helping you achieve your core business and care goals.

Sharon Muniz is CEO and founder of NCN Technology, a full-service information technology and digital marketing consulting firm serving small to medium-sized businesses and government agencies. Her recent work has focused on helping providers of assisted living and long-term care improve their communications outreach and engagement efforts. She is located in Reston, VA.

5 Ways for Healthcare Providers to Streamline Their Communications System

5 Ways for Healthcare Providers to Streamline Their Communications System

In the healthcare industry communication and IT infrastructure lies at the heart of operational effectiveness. Alerting staff for emergencies or simply making sure that the right people are given the information they need to manage caseloads is a daily challenge. Communication disruptions or breaks in the alert chain can have disastrous consequences. A multi-spectrum communication system is essential, with multiple methods of communication to ensure that the message will get through. However, this can present a logistical nightmare for any organization to manage. A healthcare provider needs to somehow integrate this electronic hydra into a seamlessly connected alert system. While this is easier said than done, here are five steps can take an organization in the right direction.

1. Catalogue All Communication Methods

The communication tools at the disposal of modern healthcare providers have served to increase the possible lines of communication and made their management a much larger challenge. The web of email, pagers, smart phones, radios, and communication apps has given healthcare managers headaches for years. A good starting point in tightening up the alert system is to make sure that all these avenues of communications are taken into account.

2. Look For The Gaps In Communication

If there have been deficiencies in communication in the past, sometimes the best way to solve the problem is to do a virtual autopsy. With so many possible ways to reach your personnel when they are needed, what was it, exactly, that went wrong? It could be as simple as a physician being away from his phone on his personal time or a paramedic parking in a cell phone dead-zone during lunch. Sometimes finding these gaps can lead to procedural changes that act as a roadmap for future contingencies.

3. Combine Unnecessary Redundancies

Redundancy is a necessary component of any communications system. Much like any system, anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Since Murphy’s Law never takes a vacation, a facility can tend to feel more secure by piling on additional back-ups to systems that have the potential for failure. However, a communications manager should evaluate how effective a redundant communication method will be to the overall communications plan. If these methods can be combined or replaced with a more effective method, take that plunge.

4. Build A Communications Hub

Whether it is an actual communication center in your facility or a virtual hub online or in the cloud, you need a place where all of your communication methods can be accessed directly. At a moment of crisis, there needs to be a place where the cooler heads can gather to resolve the problem. This centralization of communication will go a long way toward cutting down on human error in the alert process.

5. Choose An Effective Mobile Management Tool

Mobile communications, to include SMS and text messages, have become a cornerstone of the communication plan for healthcare providers. A comprehensive mobile communications tool that is customized to the particular needs of the healthcare industry, to include such unique considerations as HIPPA compliance, is essential to communications in the industry. Mobile management and targeted alerts can bring communications systems into the 21st century and provide a sleek, streamlined method of communication with every component of the healthcare facility.

5 Hot Customer Acquisition Trends for Turbocharged Digital Marketing ROI this Year

5 Hot Customer Acquisition Trends for Turbocharged Digital Marketing ROI this Year

Social marketing is changing. It’s no longer enough to build a brand presence on platforms like Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter. You need to up your game significantly if you want to supercharge your customer acquisition strategy via social marketing. These platforms play a significant role in marketing but to differentiate your firm, lets take a look at some “out of the box” ideas.

Platforms and outreach strategies are changing rapidly. The adage ‘be there or be square’ most certainly applies to customer acquisition and engagement. If you’re a brand marketer who wants to win at digital marketing this year, here are five marketing formats that should be an integral part of your audience outreach strategy.

Voice

One under-the-radar trend many brand builders are missing is voice recognition. From creating your own Alexa skill to incorporating voice search into your search engine optimization strategy, voice is big and getting bigger. Jumping on the “voice as an input” bandwagon before your competitors can significantly increase your status as a thought leader within your market sector. Everyone from Amazon and Google to Microsoft and Apple is going all-in on voice interfaces. The sooner you incorporate voice into your marketing strategy, the sooner you’ll reap the rewards of increased customer engagement.

Artificial Intelligence Bots

Bots are big this year. Tools like Rebotify and BotPress make it super simple to create a bot of your own. Conversing with customers via an artificial intelligence bot helps reduce your customer service workload while offering you customer insights you might not otherwise have discovered. You’ll be amazed at how easy it is to integrate bot messaging into multiple areas of your business like customer service and sales.

Ephemeral Content

Look no further than Snap’s IPO for proof that ephemeral content is hot. If you’re not using ephemeral marketing in your brand-building initiatives, you could be losing market share to your competitors. From Snapchat and DatChat to Confide and Signal, today’s brand marketers have a multitude of ephemeral content tools at their disposal. Incorporate ephemeral messaging into your customer outreach strategy if you want to reach new demographics that aren’t using traditional social networks like Twitter or Facebook.

Livestreaming Video

Livestreaming video is a must-use marketing tool. From Facebook Live to Instagram and Twitter, there are numerous live-streaming options you can consider. Simply plan your live stream, advertise your upcoming broadcast, and connect with your audience in real time. Anything from your appearance at a trade show to your newest product arrivals is fair game for live streaming.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer outreach is another hot commodity this year. Whether you use micro-influencers specific to your sector or relationship building with big names in content marketing and social media, successful marketing is all about connecting with influencers. Pay attention to the needs of your audience (not follower counts), and you can’t go wrong with influencer marketing. Trust, authenticity, and analytics are crucial to succeed in the influencer outreach game.

These five hot marketing trends should be integrated into your brand-building strategy if you want to stand out from your competitors. Basic social media and content marketing are no longer enough; you need to be willing to try new tools if you hope to increase brand awareness. How many of these marketing trends will you be trying this year?

Trust the Experts

Trust the Experts

I had the opportunity to zip line recently and realized how important it is to trust the experts. The zip line trainer was serious yet she reminded us to have fun. She new the potential danger of not staying connected the entire time we are up in the trees and was the subject matter expert in safety for the sport.

We ask new clients to trust us every day with their projects, data, business processes and we know the seriousness of having the best experts and tools to execute the desired outcomes. It takes a high level of trust knowing you have the right people helping you complete the zip line course. Similarly, you need the right development team with expert knowledge and proven methodologies to ensure your project is successful.

NCN SharePoint, Mobile and web development Subject matter experts create requirement documents with business objectives ALWAYS in mind. We architect, develop and test while using the agile methodologies to ensure client projects are safely delivered. For zip lining, the process of hooking up varied depending on the effort, such as climbing a ladder, zipping thousands of feet down into the dirt, or jumping from a Tarzan swing into a net. But the methodology was the same: always stay connected! NCN processes vary based on projects; but agile development methodologies and hand picked tools are the same; chosen to ensure the safety of each project.

We know and respect the seriousness of jumping off the platform with NCN to develop your project. This is the reason our experts and processes follow agile application development methodologies to lower risk and deliver successful projects. Let’s go!!

A Scary Topic this Halloween: Spoon vs Backhoe

A Scary Topic this Halloween: Spoon vs Backhoe

If you ask your team member to dig a large hole in a short time frame, would you give her a spoon or a backhoe? In today’s world of technology, there are so many options to provide employees with the right tools to improve efficiency, reduce risk and be more satisfied with their work. One of my favorite solutions is automating paper processes. It is a simple idea but not implemented enough. Capturing information on a smart phone or tablet saves time, reduces duplicate entry and errors, improves reporting and saves money.

Creating forms in SharePoint, a mobile app or even a Word Press site can be an easy way to gather information electronically and push it to the right folks with workflows that streamline a process.

Sometimes that backhoe might be sitting in your office and your still giving your employee the spoon. Do an audit of the software solutions you own and you may be surprised which tools are already available for your people to be more productive. Don’t let that ditch be your company or project grave! Happy Halloween! Boo!